The New Year is here and with it, the inevitable hike in train fares and predicted soaring of car fuel prices set to materialise. Combined with the setting in of January’s gloomy weather and the continuing national obsession with all things Uber, this could all mean more taxi journeys in 2018. Travelling by taxi brings with it a number of considerations, conundrums and questions of etiquette and safety, which we’re all too happy to address. So, here are 5 IDEAL taxi travel tips.

TO TIP OR NOT TO TIP?

That age old question, and one which gives us the fear, quite frankly; to tip your taxi driver, or not? Tipping rules vary by country, region and even scenario. However as a general rule, in the UK it’s common practice to round up the fare and to tell the driver to ‘keep the change’. If the trip has come to £9, then simply handing over a tenner is fair for all.  However, if you’ve had a long journey or they’ve helped you with your luggage, or if the driver has been particularly charming and courteous, a 10 – 15% tip is a nice gesture.

CHECK YOUR TAXI IS OFFICIAL

Safety is of paramount concern when taking a taxi, and being vigilant and exercising caution is a good starting point. Always call for a taxi instead of hailing one down, or use an official taxi rank. That way, you can be sure they’re registered and legit. Look for a meter, a radio and a visible ID badge. All genuine licensed taxis in nearly all countries are required to display their ID badge. Beware of ‘taxi touts’ that operate around Britain, particularly late at night. These are unregistered, untraceable drivers offering cheap fares in busy areas. If you don’t see a meter, badge or radio – don’t get into the taxi, it’s as simple as that. 

NO FLAT RATES

If a taxi driver is trying to negotiate a flat rate, then alarm bells should ring. Flat rates and rip off fares go together like tea and jam, so insist that the the driver uses the meter so you know you’re getting a fair price for your taxi fare. If the driver says the meter is broken, get out and get another one. It’s sensible to have a rough idea of fare estimates in all cases; there are plenty of apps and websites which can help with this.

KNOW YOUR DESTINATION

You’re in a different place and have no idea how to get where you want to go – probably one of the reasons you’re using a taxi in the first place. Assuming every taxi driver is unscrupulous is a terrible way to look at the world, but it’s best to be aware of what’s going on, and know where you’re going and approximately how long it will take to get there. And if you can get a handle on the route, either in your head or on your phone, then that’s an added bonus, if only to lend a hand if your driver gets lost.

REPORT THE TAXI DRIVER

If you’re unhappy with the driving and behaviour of the driver or believe a vehicle to be unlicensed, then report it immediately – you may help protect future passengers. This includes if they use their mobile phone. You wouldn’t do it yourself or tolerate friends or family being on their phone while driving, so why do the rules seem to change with your taxi driver? All too often, it seems, we get comfy in our taxi, neglect to put on our seat belt and ignore our driver’s indiscretions willfully. Research by auto retailer Peter Vardy has revealed that 74% of Brits would allow their taxi driver to drive around illegally, admitting they wouldn’t voice an opinion if they saw them using their phone when completing a journey.  Be one of the 26% and tell your driver to get both hands on the wheel. If the issue persists, report them to the taxi operator or the local council where the offence happened.